Can I teach English if I am not native?

[:en]This is another delicate issue:  can you teach TEFL if you are not a native?  As there are many points for and against hiring such a teacher (non native), I will use bullet points to list them and try to explain this in an organised way.

By the way, if heard of non natives being asked to change their names for clients or even saying they were natives. Don’t…it makes no sense. In the end, if you love teaching and train thoroughly, you will teach.


  • Of course you should be able to teach English even if you are not a native. It’s probably even ilegal to be discriminated by nationality in the EU.
  • The CVs we receive from most non natives are of much better than those sent by 90% of natives. This is probably due to non natives being more conscious of their need to learn, get trainning and be qualified.
    We get many curriculums from Spanish professionals who’s college degree is in teaching English, who have spent years trainnig abroad and teaching. Most natives come from other professions and have just done a 12 hour Celta/TEFL course.
  • Many natives think that just because you were born with the language you can teach it. That is absolutely not true. You are not a teacher just for being a native, you probably make loads of mistakes you are not even conscious of, and you need to learn how to teach what you learn while you grew up. That is not easy.
  • Spanish people are more attractive to employers as it is easier to hire them paperwork-wise, and they tend to be more stable (less prone to leave the country).
  • Each case is different, a non native who has grown up in an English speaking country and spent most of his/her life there, is to all effects, a native.


  • As an employer, I may want hire a non native (because of the previous points), but many clients demand natives. One can explain the many reasons why some teacher is the best candidate for the job but, in the end, the client will get what he asks for (even if it is not the best choice).
  • A non native can have an excellent accent…but there will always be hints of his native tongue. And the same happens with his/her expressions, use of language and slang. Some things you only learn after many years immersed in the proper environment.


Non natives tend to be more qualified, but clients in Spain still demand natives. So academies/schools might be forced to hire a native person even if he is not the best option for the job. The client is the boss. Sometimes it is not in the employer’s hands.

Once that obstacle is overcome, the individual is more important than nationality. One must judge by trainning, qualifications and the love of teaching ( teaching is, IMO, 50% trainning -maybe 40%-, and 50% enthusiasm). Being native or not should not be a decisive point.

As the owner of an academy, I would be able to assing some classes to non natives, and have no problem hiring them. That is, after having the same interview I would have with a native, and confirming he/she is an adequate teacher.
I would, however, recommend non natives to contact schools first. I have a feeling schools would find it easier to hire them than academies.

And there is always the market of private classes. Clients are not so selective in that area in private classes.[:]

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